Ignore excellence, be sloppy in execution – if you don’t care about success!

Once a master sculptor had just finished creating his most exquisite idol (on which he had been working for many months), when he suddenly seemed to realize something amiss. After intensely scrutinizing the form that he had just given life to, he shook his head disapprovingly. Mumbling something to himself, he then set upon the task of sculpting the idol all over again – which to many, would appear a daunting and discouraging ordeal to embark on.

A puzzled onlooker interrupted the sculptor and almost sternly asked him why the latter was sculpting the idol all over again, when the previous idol was immaculate. The scupltor told the onlooker about a miniscule flaw in the idol that made him redo the work all over again. The onlooker carefully and minutely examined the idol many times but could not notice the flaw at all with the naked eye. Even when assisted by a magnifying device, the flaw was almost imperceptible until the sculptor pointed it out.

The onlooker was perplexed at the sculptor’s fastidiousness, which, he felt, lacked pragmatism and bordered on an obsession that the sculptor lacked will to resist. Almost questioning the scupltor’s wisdom in creating the idol again, the onlooker observed that nobody (not even another expert) would ever know that the flaw existed unless the sculptor himself pointed it out, to which the master gave a calm but sharp reply, ‘But my conscience knows it and would forever remember!’


In the words of ‘Gary Ryan Blair’, ‘From typos to tardiness, many people and organizations act as if details just don’t matter much.’ He adds, ‘From start to finish, the distinguishing characteristics of success are found in the details. The popular philosophy that instructs us not to “sweat the small stuff” is flawed, because it breeds poor customer service, under performance, wasted opportunity, mistakes, inconsistencies, rework, and oversights.’ How profound and true!

Meticulous attention to details is always concomitant with another success trait, viz., commitment to excellence. Great persons in each field have always combined passion for excellence with loving attention to hundreds of small, seemingly insignificant details in order to deliver consistently superior results.

As opposed to an uncompromising quest for excellence, an attitude of mediocrity shows itself in many ways – as sloppy execution, average outcomes, tarnished reputation and lost business. Gary is simply brilliant when he declares ‘… In today’s competitive environment, mediocrity is a self-imposed death sentence.’

If ever you want a living example of quality, superior craftsmanship and loving attention to detail, look at yourself in the mirror. There cannot be a better inspiration than the maker of that unique ‘work of art’!

So, from right this moment on, let all of us resolve to:
~ Celebrate excellence
~ Deliver consistently delightful customer experience
~ Make competence our second nature
~ Pay careful attention to even the smallest details

Let us learn, acquire and apply the ‘Professional Strategies’, ‘Personal Character Traits’ and ‘Universal Principles’ that inspire excellence and drive superior results in all that we pursue and aspire to succeed in.

Let us make Everything Count!

(‘Everything Counts‘, is a book by the top strategic thinker and visionary, ‘Gary Ryan Blair’, fondly called the ‘GoalsGuy’. The book offers strategies and principles for driving excellence and delivering consistent results.)

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2 Responses to Ignore excellence, be sloppy in execution – if you don’t care about success!

  1. Good post..Venkat.. One should be obsessively attentive to the finest details of his own craft or art.. There should be acute focus on the job at hand and one should be so good in what he/she is doing, that poeople should never take their eyes of him/her.. Then Success becomes synonymous to that person.


    • Venkataraman says:

      True, I have experienced the thrill of watching such excellence in action on quite a few occasions – e.g., Viv Richards in flamboyant flow, Vidwan Karaikudi Mani fusing with the mridangam and the talam, Vidwan Haridwaramangalam A.K.Palanivel bringing forth divine magic from his Tavil and so on. I have also seen that excellence in a few software programs, which made me involuntarily scream in joy and appreciation. Sure, as you rightly and succinctly observed – in the pursuit of excellence, eventually the distinction among the person, his/her work and success blurs, nay vanishes!

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